GIBSONIA – The leadup to a game against IMG Academy probably carries a certain amount of allure.
An all-star team traveling the country to take on the best team your state has to offer must bring the question of “how good can they really be?”
Friday, we found out.
IMG, the No. 1 ranked team in the country defeated Pine-Richland 42-0 in the Rams’ Week Zero game, and it wasn’t really that close.
The Ascenders’ impressive lineup is full of power-five recruits and the talent level on both sides of the ball was on display from the opening kickoff.
IMG scored three touchdowns on its first three offensive possessions and returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown en route to a 28-0 lead at the half.
Pine-Richland, on the other hand, managed just four first downs in the first half, three of which came on the final drive which resulted in a blocked field goal as time expired.
Sophomore quarterback Cole Spencer’s first varsity action quickly introduced him to the nation’s number one recruit Nolan Smith, who was all over the field, along with 10 of his best friends.
Spencer played well despite completing only eight passes, as the Rams’ offense was at its best when the quarterback was allowed to run and make plays with his feet. He was credited with 15 rushes, but most were a mix of run/pass options that led to a breakdown on the line, leaving Spencer all alone.
The Ascenders scored on the opening drive of the third quarter to reach the 35-point lead, which caused the mercy rule and running clock into play, and the Rams were unable to get on the scoreboard.
The usual suspects were the bright spots for Pine-Richland as Tyler King and Andrew Kristofic heard their names called all night. King recorded a tackle for loss and a forced fumble to go along with a bevy of tackles while Kristofic also forced a fumble and a sack in the loss.
Pine-Richland opens conference play next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Hempfield.